Exclusionary Rule Pros and Cons

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The reason we have rules in life are simple, to keep order when there is chaos and to guide our behavior in a way that is acceptable by society’s standards. The reason we have laws and procedures to carry out those laws are simple as well, to keep the government from infringing on its citizen’s constitutional rights. If the government was to rid itself of the exclusionary rule, then it has the potential to be infringing on its citizens rights. The government could essentially walk into anyone who is suspected of a crime’s house and seize whatever they feel is evidence. The exclusionary rule is an important constitutional right within U.S. legal system, but just as it is with most of the legal systems the exclusionary rule is not without its flaws.

The exclusionary rule mandates courts to ban the introduction of evidence that is either incriminating or not that was obtained illegal. The exclusionary rule prevents evidence that was obtained by bad methods to be used in a court of law, no matter how incriminating the evidence is to the defendant. The bad methods refer to the actions of the investigators and the procedures that the investigators took while obtaining the evidence in question. There are five possible constitutional rights that the investigator could have violated that fall under the exclusionary rule. The first constitutional right is the Fourth amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The second and third constitutional rights are the Fifth Amendment’s ban on coerced incriminating statements and the Sixth amendments right to counsel. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee due process of law in administering identification procedures. Also most states have their own version of the exclusionary rule worked into their state constitutions or statues, some of which predate the Constitution

The exclusionary rule is not mentioned in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. The only remedies for constitutional violations up until the 20th century had been lawsuits brought on by private citizens against officials. The first attempt at the exclusionary rule came in the 1897 case of Bram v. United States, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that involuntary confessions are inadmissible as evidence. In this case the court announced a weaker version of the exclusionary rule that only excluded self incriminating testimony that was compelled in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

In 1914 under the Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable search and seizures, the United States Supreme Court announced the exclusionary rule, in the case Weeks v. United States. In this case Fremont Weeks was a worker in Union Station Kansas City, when the local police department conducted an illegal search by breaking into his house without a warrant. According to the book, during the search the police seized all of Weeks “books, letters, money, papers, notes, evidences of indebtedness, stock certificates, insurance policies, deeds, abstracts of title, bonds, candies clothes, and other property” (Samaha, 2012, p. 337). After all the evidence was collected and analyzed by the local police department accompanied by the United States Marshal Service arrested Weeks at his work and charged him with illegal gambling.

Weeks’ motion to return the seized evidence was denied by a trial court judge. Weeks was subsequently convicted and sentenced to a fine and imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court on appeal by Weeks reversed the conviction and ordered the return of all of his seized documents. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government violated Weeks fourth amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures when they broke into his house. Thus the exclusionary rule was born, but it only applied to federal law enforcement, not the states constitutions. It wasn’t until Mapp v. Ohio (1961) that the United States Supreme court extended the exclusionary rule to all states. Before Mapp v. Ohio (1961) the...
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